Robbers’ Roost Trail – Mt. Charleston, Nevada

Caves at Robber's Roost

Nestled in the heart of the Mt. Charleston Wilderness area, Robbers’ Roost Trail tells a legendary tale of a horse thieves’ hideout in the late 1800s.  Explore the caves, watch as brave climbers scale the limestone cliffs and enjoy all the wonders this trail has to offer. 

View looking towards canyon at Robber's Roost Cave in Mt Charleston
Fixed anchors on the cave ceiling

Robbers’ Roost Trail Stats

Trail DescriptionOut and back
Trail LocationRobbers’ Roost Trailhead, NV-158, Mt. Charleston, NV 89124
Parking Lot36.30294, -115.60989
Round Trip Mileage0.4 miles
Average Time1 hour
DifficultyModerate/Strenuous (due to scrambling in cave area)
Elevation Gain236 feet
Best time to visitAccessible year-round, best from spring through fall before snowfall.
Entrance FeeFree
Rating4.5 Mooses

What is Robbers’ Roost Trail?

Legend has it this trail was once used by horse thieves in 1885 as a hideout.  It is thought the thieves targeted travelers on the Old Mormon Road which passes through the Las Vegas Valley on the way to California.  The story goes on to say the thieves abandoned the hideout when cattle rustling became more lucrative and horses fell out of favor.

Today the trail is used by hikers and rock climbers looking to scale the steep limestone cliffs. The walls are lined with many fixed anchors which can be seen throughout the cave system as well.

View of Spring Mountains valley from Robbers' Roost Cave
Lookout down the valley from the caves

Our experience on the Robbers’ Roost Trail

We weren’t planning on stopping at Robbers’ Roost the day we visited Mt. Charleston, but we’re glad we did. 

The Robbers’ Roost trail is located on the scenic highway NV-158 (aka Deer Creek Road), between Kyle Canyon and Lee Canyon.  We were headed to the Desert Overlook Trail when we passed the trailhead for Robbers’ Roost and we decided to check it out.

Trail map for Robber's Roost in Mt Charleston
Hiking trail map

Pro-tip – The trail starts on the far side of the road across from the parking area.  It does not start behind the Robbers’ Roost trailhead sign.  

We crossed NV-158 to begin the hike towards the caves.  Use caution when crossing this street, especially with pets or children.  Drivers tend to go extremely fast on this stretch of road and seemingly come out of nowhere.

Man walking up Robbers' Roost Trial in Mt Charleston
Headed up the Robbers’ Roost Trail

The trail starts out through a nice forested area and quickly winds up some stone ‘stairs’ and to the base of the caves. 

Stone stairs shown headed towards Robber's Roost Cave
Stone ‘stairs’ along trail

It’s a short 0.2 miles to the caves and takes almost no time to arrive.

Man looking at Robber's Roost Cave in Nevada

The trail continues a short distance up a small scramble and deadends at a slot type canyon that could double as a waterfall during a flash flood. This is the official end of the trail and we didn’t go any further as it looked really steep and unmanageable.

Boulder's marking end of Robber's Roost Trail
The trail ends here ( we didn’t go past this point)

Most of your time spent on this trail will be exploring the caves and potentially watching climbers make their way up the steep cliffs.  This is a popular mountain climbing area and we were lucky enough to watch a couple of climbers attempt to summit while we were there.

We later learned the steep limestone in the area makes this one of the most difficult sport climbing locations in the world. 

After watching the climbers for a while and exploring the caves we decided to head back to the car.  The return trek was easy to follow on the same trail we came in on.

This is a worthwhile (though heavily trafficked) trail to visit while you’re in the area.

Should you visit Robbers’ Roost?

Rating: 4.5 Mooses

4.5 Mooses Rating

What we liked

  • The short trail was interesting from the start with a beautiful forested trail and interesting stone steps to walk on before reaching the caves.
  • The caves were fun to explore and provided a nice view of the valley once inside.
  • Watching the climbers attempt to make their way up the limestone wall was fascinating to watch.

What we didn’t like

  • It wasn’t clear when we arrived that the trail started on the opposite side of the street.  The signage at the beginning of the trail could have been better and I made the mistake of advising us to go behind the Robbers’ Roost sign by the vehicle parking.  You’ll know you’ve gone the wrong way if you immediately start descending and you’re headed away from any limestone rock walls.   High five to Mr. Moose who figured out we were in the wrong spot.
  • We got lucky watching the climbers. If they weren’t there, the cave would still be fun to explore but the overall experience wouldn’t have been as good.

Know before you go

  • The trail is almost exclusively covered in shade making this a cool respite during the warmer summer months.  During the winter, any snow in the area will linger. 
  • The trail starts on the opposite side of the road from the parking area. 
  • The parking area is very small and will likely fill up on a busy weekend, so go early.
  • There is a small amount of scrambling at the end of the trail if you decide to climb up into the cave.  Sturdy shoes are recommended for the hike.
Parking lot at Robber's Roost
Parking Lot for Robbers’ Roost trailhead

More information for your trip to Mt. Charleston

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