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Robbers Roost Trail: Hike To Shaman’s Cave In Sedona

Robbers Roost Trail: Hike To Shaman’s Cave In Sedona

Robbers Roost, also known as Hideout Cave or Shaman’s Cave, is a hidden cave located on the southeast side of Robbers Roost Butte in Sedona, Arizona. Shaman’s cave is accessed by hiking Robbers Roost Trail, which has different trailheads for 2WD and 4WD high clearance vehicles. The hike is relatively easy from both parking areas but it’s completely exposed and remote.

In this guide, we explain everything you need to know about hiking Robbers Roost Trail to Shaman’s Cave in Sedona.

Our Robbers Roost Sedona Experience

Hiker crouched in a natural sandstone window with desert landscape in background
Mark crouched inside the smaller Shaman’s Cave opening

We hiked Robbers Roost Trail to Shaman’s Cave during our week long visit to Sedona at the end of 2021. After driving our rented Jeep to the 4WD trailhead parking area, we took the shorter Robbers Roost Trail to the cave and enjoyed it’s spectacular views over Sedona’s red rocks in blissful solitude.

After hiking almost all of the best trails in Sedona, we can tell you that Robbers Roost Trail is perfect if you want a break from overcrowded trails. It’s a long way out of town and it’ll eat up valuable time on your itinerary but we think the cave is worth the effort.

Hiking Tip: When exploring outdoors, be sure to always practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace to preserve natural beauty so others can enjoy the same environments.

Where Is Robbers Roost?

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

Robbers Roost Trail is located on Forest Road 525C, 21 miles northwest of downtown Sedona. Follow these directions:

  1. Head southwest on AZ-89A
  2. Turn right onto FR 525
  3. Turn left onto FR 525C
  4. Turn right onto FR 9530

Both FR 525C and FR 9530 are bumpy roads to drive with loose stones, gravel and sand. Having a 4WD vehicle will make life much easier!

Where Do You Park For Robbers Roost In Sedona?

Map showing directions on forest roads and hiking trail to reach Hideout Cave on Robbers Roost Trail hike in Sedona Arizona
Our map of directions to reach Shaman’s Cave (Hideout Cave)

Robbers Roost has two separate trailhead parking areas:

  • In a 2WD vehicle you must park immediately after turning onto FR 9530. You’ll have to hike FR 9530 if you don’t have access to a 4WD vehicle.
  • But if you have a 4WD vehicle, you can drive up FR 9530 and park at Robbers Roost Trailhead.

Use the map we created above to visualize the two parking areas and route options.

Hiking Statistics

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
The larger opening inside Shaman’s Cave

Here are the hiking statistics for both Robbers Roost Trailhead variations:

2WD Vehicle Trailhead

  • 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
  • Parking: Google Maps

4WD Vehicle Trailhead

  • 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
  • Parking: Google Maps

Hiking Walkthrough

Let’s get into our Sedona Robbers Roost Trail walkthrough. We’re going to show you the entire hike step-by-step so you know exactly what to expect.

Don’t forget you can use our photos below throughout your hike to keep track of where you are.

1. Drive The Forest Roads

Parking area for 2WD cars on a dirt road taken from inside a Jeep
Photo of FR 9530 through our Jeep window

We recommend getting an early start and setting off from Sedona at first light. This way you’ll beat the crowds and avoid ATV’s on the gravel roads.

Take it easy and stick to low speeds on the gravel roads leading to FR 9530. Park at the fork if you have a 2WD car and begin walking up FR 9530, which is the start of Robbers Roost Trail for you.

Hiking Tip: You do not need to display a parking pass to hike Robbers Roost Trail to Shaman’s Cave.

2. Hike Or Drive FR 9530

FR 9530 Jeep off road high clearance trail with Jeep bonnet
Our Jeep driving on FR 9530

If you’re driving a 4WD vehicle you can continue straight up FR 9530 until you reach an unmarked but obvious parking area.

Otherwise, you must hike 1 mile with 200 ft elevation gain along a boring and exposed rocky trail before you reach Robbers Roost Trail.

3. Begin Hiking Robbers Roost Trail

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

Whether you drove or walked FR 9530, you’ll begin your hike to Hideout Cave on Robbers Roost Trail. It’s 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 uphill in our photo above. The gradient is relatively steep and it’s quite rocky.

Robbers Roost runs east from the trailhead and eventually accesses Hideout Cave from the north. Stick to the main trail on your way out and back again to avoid damaging the natural environment.

4. Arrive At Shaman’s Cave

Exterior of Hideout Cave from the North side orange rocks to cross on Robbers Roost Trail to get inside the hidden Sedona cave
Shaman’s Cave exterior from the trail

Robbers Roost Trail begins by dropping 60 feet down into a V shaped depression. Once you reach the bottom, you have to climb back up 60 feet before reaching a split in the trail.

You need to turn left at the fork. This left turn leads clockwise around a rock formation and eventually you’ll circle around to your first view of Shaman’s Cave.

Accessing the cave entrance requires crossing narrow slick rock which will be treacherous when wet. The drop off is significant but the crossing is wide enough to safely navigate if you’re careful. Take your time and wear shoes with good traction.

5. Enjoy The Shaman’s Cave View

One large window and one small window with hiker sat inside
Mark sat in the smaller opening enjoying the view

Shaman’s Cave has one huge oval shaped opening and one small circular shaped opening, like two windows. From inside Shaman’s cave you can enjoy spectacular views over Sedona’s wild and unspoiled landscape below.

The hike is called Robbers Roost because the 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.

The 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.

6. Head Back To Your Car

Hiking a rocky ledge with desert background on a sunny day in arizona
Kristen hiking back after leaving the cave

Once you’ve had enough of those views, head back to your car the same way you entered. Take care on the narrow ledge and rocky paths.

Hiking Robbers Roost early in the day means you can go straight on to visit nearby ruins or drive Jeep trails in the area before they become too busy with ATV’s and other Jeeps.

Further Reading: The 50 best US hiking trails

Pros And Cons

Jeep parked on a rocky flat area with red rocks behind on a sunny day in arizona
Our Jeep parked at Robbers Roost Trailhead

Pros:

  • One of the quietest caves you can visit in Sedona
  • Stunning views from inside the cave
  • Easy short hike with 4WD vehicle

Cons:

  • Long way out of Sedona
  • Accessing the cave can be a little tricky
  • Longer hike without 4WD

Best Time To Hike Robbers Roost Trail

Steep uphill bank on a dirt trail with blue sky background
Steep climb up to Shaman’s Cave

The best time to hike Robbers Roost Trail is early morning on a weekday in spring or fall so you can benefit from perfect hiking and light conditions.

Unlike the other secret caves in Sedona, Shaman’s Cave is exceptionally quiet and crowd free. You can visit the cave any time of day and enjoy a relaxing experience.

Best Season

Spring and fall are the busiest tourist periods in Sedona. Hideout Cave is relatively unknown but the odds of sharing the cave with other hikers will increase during April, May, June, September and October.

Winter and summer to a lesser extent are quieter periods in Sedona, which means you have a better chance of being alone in Hideout Cave during November, December, January, February, March, July and August.

Best 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. We were inside Hideout Cave at 11:30am during our visit to Sedona in December.

How To Include Shaman’s Cave In Your Sedona Itinerary

Narrow rocky ledge with blue sky and trees in valley below
Narrow ledge on the opposite side of Shaman’s Cave

The best way to include Shaman’s Cave into your Sedona itinerary is to begin hiking Robbers Roost early in the morning, then immediately afterwards you can stop at Honanki Heritage Site and Palatki Heritage Site, before driving Outlaw and Diamondback Gulch 4WD Jeep Trails.

What To Pack

  • 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.

Our Top 5 Tips

  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

In Conclusion

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

Robbers Roost Trail is an easy hike and Shaman’s Cave has excellent views over Sedona. It’s hard to reach but the trail and cave are much quieter than others in the region. If you have access to a 4WD vehicle, you’ll be able to park much closer to the cave.

Is Robbers Roost Trail Worth It?

Yes! We think Robbers Roost Trail is well worth the effort if you have a longer Sedona itinerary or you prefer to escape the crowds. The short hike has a great reward and it’s also close to other attractions including heritage sites and jeep trails.

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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 to hiking Robbers Roost Trail helps with planning your visit to Sedona, Arizona!

Please let us know if you have any questions about how to find the Shaman’s Cave in the comments below.

Happy Hiking,

Mark and Kristen

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