Bikepacking Robbers Roost Overnighter (Video)

Steve from the Hardtail Party YouTube channel recently got out on the Robbers Roost Overnighter route in Sedona, Arizona for a quick bikepacking trip. In true Hardtail Party fashion, he filmed along the way and has put together a 32-minute long video documenting their adventure. Watch it here and read a quick summary about the trip from Steve…

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Steve from the Hardtail Party YouTube channel is fortunate enough to call Sedona, Arizona home, allowing he and his friend Paul to leave right from their doorstep to get out on the Robbers Roost Overnighter route for a quick adventure. This was a first for Steve and he put together a video of their trip, which you can watch below alongside a written recap of their slightly modified route and a reflection on the ride.

Words and photos by Steve Hume (@hardtailparty)

I’ve been using Bikepacking.com as a resource to plan routes for years. It has been invaluable in my planning. The fact that these resources are free and so thorough is incredible. I’ve always had a dream to start a bikepacking trip from my house, and when I saw Logan post the Robbers Roost Overnighter R last year, he made it even easier than I could have imagined.

The most difficult part of any bikepacking trip is picking a date that will work with your riding companions and the weather. My buddy Paul and I had tried to make this trip happen several times, but when we saw a dip in the forecast in May, we seized the opportunity and headed out. With no reliable water sources this time of year, I decided to cache a few gallons along the route. The night before our trip, I dropped off two gallons of water in the middle of the figure 8, where Boyton Pass Rd meets up with the end of Diamondback Gulch ATV Trail. This would give us an extra half gallon of water per day per person.

Robbers Roost Video

We began the route by taking the Axis trail to the bottom of the wash where it meets with Girdner. This trail didn’t exist when Logan created the original route, but the Forest Service recently created it, and it has become my favorite way to start this route. It’s a fun, flowy downhill rip to Girdner trail, where we reconnected with the established route. Normally it would be foolish to ride this route in late May, but we had a freak cold front and temps were in the 40s at night and low 70s during the day, with a light breeze. The desert was in full bloom and the vistas were incredible. The singletrack trails went slightly slower because of our loaded bikes, but they handled the trail well. For those new to Sedona and desert riding in general, they say the singletrack miles here are like dog years. One mile here feels like seven miles elsewhere. You earn every mile.

Chuckwagon, Mezcal, and Aerie trails kept us on our toes and added to the adventure. The most dangerous part of riding in Sedona is taking your eyes off the trails to soak in the views. There were new views around every turn. Once we hit the gravel road, our pace quickened significantly. Half of this route is singletrack, and the other half is gravel road. We were concerned about the elevation on the Outlaw ATV trail, but apart from the loose baseball size rocks beneath our tires, the climbs and descents were quite fine. There were no sections of hike-a-bike for us (these are our local trails that we’re used to), and we never got so winded we had to stop and take a break. The aerobic intensity was moderate, and made for a fantastic day. Logan did a fantastic job piecing this route together. We had hoped to make it to Shaman’s Cave before dark, but we decided to take our time and not rush the trip. I’m glad we did. We found a fantastic campsite along the route and had it all to ourselves.

  • Robbers Roost Video
  • Robbers Roost Video

The next morning we headed up to visit Shaman’s Cave (Robbers Roost). This was the highlight of the route. We decided to stay 20 minutes or so, then head back, as it was starting to warm up. Paul decided to duck home early and cut the trip short, while I continued along the route. The route back to pavement via Diamondback Gulch went quick and was very enjoyable. Soon I was back at my water cache, and on to singletrack shortly after that. The final stretch of singletrack is fantastic. It’s fun, flowy, and loose. Even on a loaded bike, it’s a hoot to ride. Outer Limits takes you to a creek bottom a few miles before the end of the loop. From this creek bottom, it’s a constant climb for 40 minutes or so, with a few false summits. Sit back, spin, and enjoy the views.

Having linked my local trails into a bikepacking adventure changed the way I saw them, and gave me a new sense of adventure. I highly recommend creating a route using your local trails. You don’t need to go far to get away from it all. Thanks to Logan Watts for creating a fantastic route, and resource with Bikepacking.com.

  • Robbers Roost Video
  • Robbers Roost Video

Robbers Roost Overnighter Tips

  • There is water 1/4 mile from the Cultural Center parking lot at Yavapai College. Ride your bike around to the back parking lot, and near the restrooms you’ll find a filtered bottle filler.
  • I recommend taking Axis down to the creek bottom to reconnect with Girdner. It’s more fun than girdner.
  • We went mid-week to avoid ATV and Jeep tours. This was a good decision.
  • If you want to visit the Honanki site, you’ll need to arrive before 3PM. If you want to visit the Palatki ruin, you’ll need to make reservations. I recommend making these 2-10 weeks in advance.
  • We left at 3PM. Made it to camp 25 miles later at dusk.
  • Physically, this isn’t a very demanding trail. The singletrack is technical if you’re not from the area. This is a great first time bikepacking trip, provided you set up a water cache.
  • Normally I wouldn’t recommend this route in May-August, but our temps were in the low 70s with a slight breeze.
  • This is not for gravel bikes, there are serious rocks on the singletrack, and suspension would be a good idea.
  • We relied on a water drop at the middle of the figure 8, where Diamondback Gulch meets Boyton Pass Rd.

For more details on the Robbers Roost Overnighter route, including photos and the route map, check out the official route guide.

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