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Robber's Roost Trail
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Spring Mountains (Mt. Charleston), Kyle Canyon Area
Robber's Roost Trail
 
robber's roost
Robber's Roost Cave (view west from trailhead)

Overview

This is a short, but moderately strenuous, loop trail that heads up a narrow canyon to limestone caves that, according to local legend, were used by bandits as a hideout while raiding travelers on the old Mormon Trail. I'm not sure about that, but it is an interesting canyon with caves on both sides and a very nice slots and pour-over at the top. This is also a world-class rock climbing site, so the wall can echo from the sounds of civilization; otherwise listen for Canyon Wren and White-throated Swifts.

Link to map.

Robber's Roost Trail
Trailhead (view W from road)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, this is a pretty safe trail; however, be careful when crossing the road. If you let your kids climb in or around the caves, watch them carefully near the edges; some of the limestone rock is surprisingly slick. Also, the elevation is over 8,000 feet, so take it easy if you've just come up from the desert.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, this hike is fairly short, so just bring what you need of the 10 Essentials.

Robber's Roost Trail
Low on the trail (view SW)

Getting to the Trailhead

The trailhead is located up in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area (generally referred to as Mt. Charleston) on Deer Creek Road between Kyle and Lee Canyons, about 1 hour northwest of Las Vegas. From town, drive out to the Robber's Roost Trailhead.

Robber's Roost Trail
Stone steps (loop ends here) (view W)

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 2, Waypoint 01), walk across the road, pass the trailhead sign, and hike westward on a clearly marked trail through a forest of pinyon pine, white fir, mountain mahogany, and rabbitbrush. The mixture of lower elevation (pinyon pine) and higher elevation (white fir) trees indicates that this is a transition zone between the lower elevation Pinyon-Juniper Woodland (Upper Sonoran) and Yellow Pine Forest (Transition) life zones.

Robber's Roost Trail
Trail below main cave (view W)

The trail crosses the old original road before starting up the canyon. The original road was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (known as the CCC), one of the government-funded public works programs that put people to work during the Great Depression. It took four years, from 1936 to 1940, to build the road connecting Kyle Canyon with Lee Canyon.

As the canyon narrows, the trail steepens, but stone and concrete steps ease the way. On the way up, notice that a trail cuts off to the south (left) at the beginning of the second set of stone and concrete steps; this trail is the end of the loop.

Robber's Roost Trail
Trail above main cave (view E)

Continue up the stone steps to the caves (Wpt. 02), which are only about 5 minutes from the trailhead. The trail leads directly to a large cave in the north (right) wall of the canyon; there is a smaller cave in the south (left) wall.

The forest is wetter here in the narrow canyon, and the extra soil moisture supports a forest of tall ponderosa pine trees and white fir, species typical of the Yellow Pine Forest (Transition) and Pine-Fir Forest (Canadian) Life Zones. After investigating the large cave, continue up the canyon for a minute or two. The canyon narrows and pinches off at a pour-over that blocks further progress. The canyon is only a few feet wide at this point.

Robber's Roost Trail
Slot canyon above cave (view E)

On the way down, stay on the south (right) side of the canyon and pick up the trail that heads east across the slope and towards the smaller cave. After that cave, the trail continues eastward, makes one big switchback (Wpt. 03), drops into the bottom of the canyon (Wpt. 04), and rejoins the main trail to close the loop. From there, retrace you footprints down the canyon and back to the trailhead.

Robber's Roost Trail
Caves on S side of canyon (view W)
Local legend has it that during the pioneer days, Robber's Roost was used by horse thieves as hideout around 1885. They say the outlaws put up a fence and used the canyon for a corral, used the caves for shelter, and used high points around the caves as vantage points for spotting approaching lawmen. They also say the bandits stashed stolen goods around Robber's Roost, so perhaps there is some treasure in the hills. This makes a good story, but looking at the cave makes me wonder if it was such a good place to live.
Robber's Roost Trail
Robbers Roost Cave (view from highway)
Robber's Roost Trail
Robbers Roost Cave (view from trailhead)
Robber's Roost Trail
Low on the trail (view SW)
Robber's Roost Trail
Low on the trail (view SW)
Robber's Roost Trail
Low on the trail (view W)
Robber's Roost Trail
Middle of the trail (view W)
Robber's Roost Trail
Trail below cave (view W)
Robber's Roost Trail
Below cave (view W from trail)
Robber's Roost Trail
Robbers Roost Cave (view E)
Robber's Roost Trail
Robbers Roost Cave (view E)
Robber's Roost Trail
High on the trail (view W)
Robber's Roost Trail
Slot at top of the canyon (view W)
Robber's Roost Trail
Slot at top of the canyon (hikers looking up pour-over; view W)
Robber's Roost Trail
Boulders in pour-over at top of the canyon (view W)
Robber's Roost Trail
Top of the trail (view E)
Robber's Roost Trail
Hikers starting down loop trail (view NW)
Robber's Roost Trail
Caves on south wall (view SW)
Robber's Roost Trail
Inside cave on south wall (view S)
Robber's Roost Trail
Inside cave on south wall (view N)
Robber's Roost Trail
Descending middle of the trail (view E)
Robber's Roost Trail
Descending middle of the trail (view E)
Robber's Roost Trail
Robbers Roost Cave from descent trail (view N)
Robber's Roost Trail
Descending middle of the trail (view SE)
Robber's Roost Trail
Looking back up middle of the trail (view NW)
Robber's Roost Trail
Descending middle of the trail (view SE)
Robber's Roost Trail
Descending middle of the trail (view NW)
Robber's Roost Trail
End of descent loop at main trail (view NW)
Robber's Roost Trail
Hiker at end of the trail (view W); watch for traffic on highway!

Table 2. Hiking Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
01 Robber's Roost Trailhead 624884 4018232 7,914 0.00 0.00 GPS
04 Start Loop 624709 4018120 8,004 0.14 0.14 GPS
02 Head of the Canyon 624667 4018104 8,004 0.03 0.17 GPS
03 Bend of Switchback 624766 4018093 8,035 0.07 0.24 GPS
04 End Loop 624709 4018120 8,004 0.05 0.29 GPS
01 Robber's Roost Trailhead 624884 4018232 7,914 0.14 0.43 GPS

 
Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 120603

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