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Hike Robbers Roost Trail To Hideout Cave In Sedona

Hike Robbers Roost Trail To Hideout Cave In Sedona

Hideout Cave, otherwise known as Shaman 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’s just so far out of the traditional touristy area in Sedona that very few people make the journey out here.

Is it worth the effort?

Hideout Cave itself is not the most photogenic of the 7 popular caves in Sedona, but we think it has the best view looking out of the cave over the 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 town.

In this guide we will cover:

  • Where to park for the hike with 2WD and 4WD
  • Exactly how to access Hideout Cave
  • Map of parking areas, trails and the cave
  • Hiking walkthrough
  • 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?

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?

Map showing direction from Sedona to reach parking for Robbers Roost Trail to find Hideout Cave key turning points and road numbers

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.

Parking For The Robbers Roost To Hideout Cave Hike

There are two parking areas to use for Robbers Roost Trail. One for low clearance vehicles and a second much closer to Hideout Cave but only accessible with 4WD high clearance vehicles.

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 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.

Parking Without 4WD

Parking area for 2WD cars on a dirt road taken from inside a Jeep

You can park at this exact location on Google Maps if you don’t have a high clearance vehicle.

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

Parking With 4WD

Jeep parked on a rocky flat area with red rocks behind on a sunny day in arizona

If you have a high clearance 4WD vehicle you can follow the exact same route as above to reach the low clearance parking area.

But 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.

Here’s the exact location on Google Maps to park your Jeep or 4WD vehicle.

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
Hiking a rocky ledge with desert background on a sunny day in arizona

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

Map showing directions on forest roads and hiking trail to reach Hideout Cave on Robbers Roost Trail hike in Sedona Arizona

The map above shows exactly what you can expect when hiking Robbers Roost Trail to Hideout Cave.

Map key:

  • 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 Itinerary

Accessing Robbers Roost Trail so you can hike to Hideout Cave is not easy. So why would you include it on your list of 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

Main window looking out onto landscape with red rocks and trees from inside Hideout Cave at the end of Robbers Roost Trail in Sedona Arizona

Let’s get into the Robbers Roost to 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.

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.

Hike Or Drive FR 9530

FR 9530 Jeep off road high clearance trail with Jeep bonnet

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.

Robbers Roost Trail

Robbers Roost Trail lightly beaten path leading to Hideout Cave in Sedona

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.

Steep uphill bank on a dirt trail with blue sky background

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.

Accessing Hideout Cave

Exterior of Hideout Cave from the North side orange rocks to cross on Robbers Roost Trail to get inside the hidden Sedona 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.

Narrow rocky ledge with blue sky and trees in valley below

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.

Cave Windows

One large window and one small window with hiker sat inside

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.

Hiker crouched in a natural sandstone window with desert landscape in background

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.

Drive Back

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.

Season

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 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.
Hiker with camera and gimbal inside Hideout Cave on Robbers Roost Trail in Sedona on a sunny day in December

5 Tips For Hiking Robbers Roost Trail

  1. Hire a Jeep so you can park much closer to Hideout Cave
  2. Visit the cave early for the best lighting
  3. Wear robust shoes with good traction for the ledge
  4. Take a wide angle lens and stick to the back of the cave to capture the whole scene in one frame
  5. Use one of the best hiking apps like Gaia GPS or All Trails offline maps for navigation

Sedona Arizona Visitor Summary

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 Solider 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.
More From The Southwest

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.

Happy Hiking,

Mark and Kristen

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