Hideout Cave, otherwise known as Shaman’s Cave, is a secret cave accessed by hiking Robbers Roost Trail in the far northwest of Sedona. Now, the cave isn’t exactly hidden or a secret, it is just so far out of the traditional touristy area in Sedona that very few people make the journey out here.
Is Hideout Cave worth the effort?
Yes! Hideout Cave itself is not the most photogenic of the 7 best Sedona caves, but we think it has the most picturesque view looking out of the cave over a stunning landscape below.
If you have plenty of time on your Sedona itinerary and don’t mind a longer drive out of civilization, Robbers Roost Trail to Hideout Cave offers a much quieter alternative to the overcrowded trails in Sedona.
In this guide we will show you:
- Where to park for Robbers Roost Trail with 2WD and 4WD
- Exactly how to access Hideout Cave
- Map of parking areas, trails and the cave
- Hiking walkthrough to reach Hideout Cave in Sedona
- Photos of the trail and cave
Let’s hike Robbers Roost Trail to Hideout Cave in Sedona Arizona!
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Why Is IT Called Robbers Roost Trail?
Hideout or Shaman’s Cave is located on the southeast side of Robbers Roost Butte, named because (allegedly!) bootleggers, rustlers and robbers would steal cattle or other animals and hide here.
A small rounded window on the south side of Hideout Cave is where the thieves would supposedly look out to see if ranchers were chasing them.
Where Is Robbers Roost In Sedona?
Robbers Roost Trail is located 21 miles northwest of downtown Sedona on Forest Road 525C. A 2WD trailhead can be accessed via AZ-89A, Forest Road 525 for 3 miles and Forest Road 525C for 10 miles. A 4WD trailhead is located an additional 1 mile up Forest Road 9530 which saves 2 miles of hiking total.
The access roads are comprised mostly of gravel, sand and stones. This means a bit of bouncing, twisting and loose stones being kicked up.
The route is accessible to 2WD vehicles but is better suited to 4WD high clearance vehicles, particularly after rainfall.
Where Do You Park For Robbers Roost In Sedona?
There are two parking areas to use for hiking Robbers Roost Trail in Sedona. The first is for low clearance vehicles and a second is much closer to Hideout Cave but is only accessible with 4WD high clearance vehicle.
The high clearance 4WD parking area is the true beginning of Robbers Roost Trail, whereas the 2WD parking area requires you to hike FR 9530 for an additional 1 mile each way to reach Robbers Roost Trail.
Note: Beware of ATV’s blasting by at high speed and kicking back loose stones at your car and windshield.
Robbers Roost Trail Parking Without 4WD
You can park at this exact location on Google Maps to hike Robbers Roost Trail if you do not have access to a high clearance vehicle in Sedona.
In the photo above, we had just turned onto FR 9350 and the parking area for 2WD cars is on the right side of the road.
Here’s how to get there:
- Turn north onto highway 89A near Two Trees Observation Area
- Follow signs for Sycamore Pass on Forest 525 Road
- After 3 miles split left onto Forest 525C Road (note the C)
- Drive 7 miles on 525C until you reach a fork in the road at FR9530
- Park in an open area off the road moments after turning right onto FR 9530
Robbers Roost Trail Parking With 4WD
If you have a high clearance 4WD vehicle in Sedona you can follow the exact same route as above to reach the low clearance parking area.
However, instead of stopping moments after turning onto FR9530, you can continue up that road for a further 1 mile and park at a very obvious open rocky area with easy access to Robbers Roost Trail.
In the photo above you can see a rocky flat area for parking a high clearance vehicle like the awesome Jeep we hired. Hideout Cave is on the back side of the rock formation behind the Jeep.
By parking here you effectively save yourself 2 miles roundtrip hiking on a Jeep road to access Robbers Roost Trail in Sedona.
Here’s the exact location on Google Maps to park your Jeep or 4WD vehicle.
Note: Renting a Jeep not only gives you an easy way to access isolated parts of town, but it also means you can go off roading on adventure Jeep trails in Sedona.
2WD Robbers Roost To Hideout Cave Trail Statistics
- Trail Distance: 3 miles round trip
- Elevation Gain: 450 ft
- Hike Difficulty: Moderate
- Time Required: 2.5 hours
- Trailhead: Parking at FR 525C / FR 9530
4WD Robbers Roost To Hideout Cave Trail Statistics
- Trail Distance: 1 mile round trip
- Elevation Gain: 200 ft
- Hike Difficulty: Moderate
- Time Required: 1.5 hours
- Trailhead: 4WD Parking at Hide Out Trailhead
Do You Need A Parking Pass To Hike Robbers Roost To Hideout Cave?
No, you do not need to display either a Red Rock Pass or America the Beautiful Interagency Pass if you park at either of the two trailheads for Robbers Roost Trail.
Are you visiting other caves and hiking other trails in the area?
If yes, you will need either a Red Rock Pass (or America the Beautiful Pass) in order to access this list of places in Sedona.
Here’s what you need to know about passes.
Red Rock Pass
You can buy a Red Rock Pass at this specific recreation.gov site in advance. Or you can buy one at a ticket machine when you arrive in person at either parking lot listed further in this guide.
Red Rock Pass options include:
- 1 Day Red Rock Pass – $5
- 7 Day Red Rock Pass – $15
- Red Rock Annual Pass – $20
If you plan to hike more trails around Sedona over a period of 2 – 7 days, you should buy the 7 day pass because you will need it at many other trailheads in the area.
America The Beautiful Pass
Are you a regular visitor to US National Parks and Monuments?
It’s highly likely you already have an annual National Parks pass, which is also known as America the Beautiful or the Interagency Pass.
Don’t have one yet?
Read our guide on why America the Beautiful national parks pass is one of the best things you can buy if you plan to visit multiple parks in the next year.
Instead of buying a Red Rock Pass for your visit to Sedona you can simply display your America the Beautiful Pass at every hiking trailhead.
Map Of The Robbers Roost Trail To Hideout Cave In Sedona
The map above shows exactly what you can expect when hiking Robbers Roost Trail to Hideout Cave.
- Blue Line – Forest Road 525C
- Green Line – Forest Road 9530 (hike 2WD or drive 4WD)
- Orange Line – Robbers Roost Trail
- Black X – Hideout Cave Location
How To Include Hideout Cave In Your Sedona Itinerary
Accessing Robbers Roost Trail so you can hike to Hideout Cave is not easy, so why would you include it on your wishlist of top things to do in Sedona?
Well, if you rent a Jeep or have your own 4WD vehicle, you can get to places most others can’t in Sedona and Hideout Cave is a fun hike with stunning views.
But unless you can tie in this hike with other nearby attractions, it is far too much effort simply for hiking to a small cave.
The best way to include Hideout Cave into one of your days in Sedona is to drive here right after sunrise, then on your way back into town you can visit Honanki Heritage Site and Palatki Heritage Site with a 4WD vehicle.
You can also drive Outlaw Trail and Diamondback Gulch Trail, two of the main Jeep trails in Sedona that are also located out here to the northwest of town.
Hideout Cave Via Robbers Roost Trail Walkthrough
Let’s get into the Robbers Roost Trail to Sedona Hideout Cave hiking walkthrough.
You are hiking in Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness in the Coconino National Forest so it is important to remember the principles of leave no trace.
Leave the natural landscape and environment exactly as you find it.
Sedona Hikes – Use our popular guide to the 20 best hiking trails in Sedona to find the most amazing hikes around this stunning red rock landscape.
1. Park Up Early
Get an early start by setting off from Sedona at first light. This way you will beat any (relatively small) crowds but you’ll also avoid ATV’s on the gravel roads which is good news for your car.
Take it easy and stick to low speeds on the gravel roads leading to FR9530. Park at the split if have a 2WD car and begin walking up FR9530, which is the start of Robbers Roost Trail for you.
2. Hike Or Drive FR 9530
If you are driving a 4WD vehicle you can continue to drive up FR 9530 until you reach an unmarked but obvious parking area.
Those who parked at the 2WD area, you have a 1 mile hike with 200 ft elevation gain along a rocky trail before you reach the true Robbers Roost Trail path.
3. Hike Robbers Roost Trail
Whether you drove or walked FR 9530, you will begin your hike to Hideout Cave on Robbers Roost Trail. This will be a 1 mile round trip walk if you follow the lightly beaten path directly.
You can just about see the narrow trail running downhill and then back up hill in the distance.
We advise sticking to the main trail both in and out, which runs east from the trailhead and accesses Hideout Cave from the north.
However, you can circle the cave and loop around to the south which eventually rejoins the main trail. That means you can either enter from the south side or north side.
We personally stuck to the main path in and out to the north side of the cave entrance.
4. Access Hideout Cave
Robbers Roost begins by dropping 60 ft down into a V shaped depression. Once you reach the bottom, you have to climb back up 60 ft to reach a split in the trail.
You want to turn left at the fork.
This left turn leads clockwise around a rock formation staying flat and eventually you will circle round to your first view of Hideout Cave.
Getting to the cave entrance requires crossing a narrow and steeply angled slickrock which could be treacherous if wet.
There is a significant drop off but the crossing is wide enough to safely navigate.
We read that this section was challenging but it really wasn’t anywhere near as dangerous as we were expecting.
Just take your time and wear shoes with good traction.
5. Cave Windows
Hideout Cave features one huge oval shaped window and one small circular shaped window. The smaller window looking south is where the name Robbers Roost originated.
From the inside you have spectacular views over Sedona’s wild and untouched landscape below.
Red rocks, desert vegetation and blue sky make up quintessential Sedona photos.
Your reward for the early start is a cave chamber filled with sunlight and hopefully nobody else in sight.
Sit in the window for a classic photo and put your smartphone or camera down for a minute to enjoy the view.
6. Drive Back To Sedona
By arriving early it means you can now go on to visit nearby ruins or drive some of the best Jeep Trails in Sedona before they get too busy with ATV’s and other Jeeps.
Hideout Cave Trail Pros And Cons
- One of the quietest caves you can visit in Sedona
- Stunning views from inside the cave
- Easy short hike with 4WD vehicle
- Long way out of Sedona
- Accessing the cave can be a little tricky
- Longer hike without 4WD
Best Time To Hike Robbers Roost Trail To Hideout Cave
The ideal time to hike Robbers Roost Trail to Hideout Cave would be early morning on a weekday in Spring or Fall so you can benefit from perfect hiking and light conditions.
Unlike most hikes and caves in Sedona, Robbers Roost Trail is exceptionally quiet and crowd free. You can visit the cave any time of day and enjoy a relaxing experience.
But here’s a little more information about when to visit Hideout Cave.
Spring and Fall represent the busiest tourist periods in Sedona. Hideout Cave is relatively unknown but the percentage chance of sharing the cave with other hikers will increase during April, May, September and October.
Winter and Summer are quieter seasons in Sedona, which means you have a better chance of being alone in Hideout Cave during December, January, February, July and August.
No matter which season you visit Sedona, try to avoid weekends and holidays.
Time Of Day
The best time of day to hike Robbers Roost Trail to Hideout Cave is early morning because the cave is east facing, which means it will illuminate with golden yellow and deep orange light right after sunrise.
From midday onward the cave will be in deep and dark shadow as the sun moves around to the south. There will be a short period when the smaller window inside Hideout Cave has a direct hit from the sun.
We were inside Hideout Cave at 11.30am during our visit to Sedona in December for reference.
What To Pack For Hiking Robbers Roost Trail
Hideout Cave is a 2 hour round trip hike if you don’t have a 4WD vehicle and it is completely exposed apart from inside the cave itself.
- Footwear – Footwear with good grips and traction will help access Hideout Cave via the narrow ledge. If it has rained recently, don’t try to enter the cave with running shoes or flip flops.
- Water – Carrying plenty of water is essential. Summer months require more water and even electrolyte drinks.
- Sun protection – Sunglasses, sun hats, long layers and sunscreen are vital if you are visiting Sedona in Summer. Almost all of Robbers Roost Trail is open and exposed.
5 Tips For Hiking Robbers Roost Trail
- Hire a Jeep so you can park much closer to Hideout Cave
- Visit the cave early for the best lighting
- Wear robust shoes with good traction for the ledge
- Take a wide angle lens and stick to the back of the cave to capture the whole scene in one frame
- Use one of the best hiking apps like Gaia GPS or All Trails offline maps for navigation
Looking for hiking inspiration? Read our popular guide to the 50 best hikes in the USA next!
Sedona Arizona Visitor Summary
How to get around – Sedona is small but you’ll need a car to access the best hikes to the north and south of town. If you want to get to the hard to reach places, you should hire a jeep.
When to visit – Spring and Fall are the best seasons to visit Sedona, but they come with a higher price tag and more crowds. Winter is a fantastic time to avoid both.
Where to stay in – Accommodation is expensive in Sedona, but there are plenty of very high quality places to stay including Matterhorn Inn, Lantern Light Inn, Arabella Hotel, Whispering Creek B&B and The Suites at Sedona.
Popular things to do – Sedona is one of the best places to hike in the US, but it is also a wonderful place to get off-road in a jeep, shoot stunning photography, visit historic sites and drink wine.
Robbers Roost Trail Sedona FAQ’s
Let’s finish with some of the most asked questions about hiking Robbers Roost Trail to Hideout or Shaman’s Cave in Sedona AZ.
Robbers Roost Trail to Hideout Cave is located on FR 9530 in northwest Sedona. It can be accessed from Sedona via AZ-89 A, FR 525 and FR 525C. Having access to a 4WD vehicle will allow you to drive right up to Robbers Roost Trailhead on FR 9530.
Hiking Robbers Roost Trail to Shaman’s Cave is 1 mile roundtrip if you have access to a 4WD vehicle or 3 miles roundtrip if you are driving a 2WD vehicle in Sedona.
More From Sedona
Cathedral Rock – Sedona is filled with amazing hikes but Cathedral Rock Trail is one of the most iconic. If you’re short on time, this is the adventure hike for you.
Bell Rock – Hike the Bell Rock Courthouse Butte Loop Trail for stunning Sedona views, a fun slick rock climb and our hidden loop half way up the formation.
Boynton Canyon – Exactly how to find the famous Subway Cave on Boynton Canyon Trail, the most photographed cave in Sedona.
Birthing Cave – The easiest cave to reach in Sedona is Birthing Cave on Long Canyon Trail, ending with amazing views and a crowd free climax.
Soldier Pass – Hike to Devils Kitchen and Seven Sacred Pools before climbing into Soldier Pass Cave on the family friendly Soldier Pass Trail in Sedona.
Keyhole Cave – Get off the beaten path in Sedona by hiking the adventurous trail to Keyhole Cave, the biggest and hardest cave to climb into.
Fay Canyon – How to hike Fay Canyon Trail to Fay Canyon Arch and a fun end of trail climb.
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Want more Arizona content? Head over to our Arizona travel guides to explore the best of Grand Canyon, Sedona and beyond.
We hope this guide on hiking to the hidden Hideout Cave helps with planning your visit to Sedona, Arizona!
Please let us know if you have any questions about hiking Robbers Roost Trail to Hideout Cave or your visit to Sedona in the comments below.
Mark and Kristen
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