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.
Robbers’ Roost Trail Stats
|Trail Description||Out and back|
|Trail Location||Robbers’ Roost Trailhead, NV-158, Mt. Charleston, NV 89124|
|Parking Lot||36.30294, -115.60989|
|Round Trip Mileage||0.4 miles|
|Average Time||1 hour|
|Difficulty||Moderate/Strenuous (due to scrambling in cave area)|
|Elevation Gain||236 feet|
|Best time to visit||Accessible year-round, best from spring through fall before snowfall.|
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.
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.
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.
The trail starts out through a nice forested area and quickly winds up some stone ‘stairs’ and to the base of the caves.
It’s a short 0.2 miles to the caves and takes almost no time to arrive.
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.
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
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.
More information for your trip to Mt. Charleston
- Activities: 15 Best things to do in around Mt. Charleston
- Hiking: The best easy hiking trails around Mt Charleston
- Hiking: Upper Bristlecone Trail, a magical day of mountains and wild horses
- Disc Golf: Lee Canyon Disc Golf Course – playing a perfect round
- Hiking: Explore the Cathedral Rock trail
- Historic: Desert View Overlook trail
- Visitor Center: Explore the Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway