Charouleau Gap

Total Miles


1551.64 ft


7.5 Hours

Technical Rating



Best Time

Summer, Fall

Trail Overview

Charouleau Gap is a fun and scenic Jeep trail through the Catalina mountains, but it is long and remote with a rating of 7. You will spend all day on the trip. Charouleau Gap trail is known to be one of the best in the state. Its most intimidating obstacle, "The Step", is optional, but you'll find many more impressive spots that aren't. When Canada Del Oro Wash is flowing, the experience is epic. The trail is maintained by the Tuscon Rough Riders. The trail can be done in either direction - we have a slight preference to start in Saddlebrooke and end in Oracle. The trail is described in this direction. Start the trail by heading east across the Canada Del Oro Valley then start to climb toward Charouleau Gap in the Catalina Mountains. The climb is infrequently rebuilt by the Forest Service for fire control access, but it has been a long time and the trail is heavily eroded. There are several optional play areas on the way up, one called Mini Moab. Kissing Rock is one of my favorite extra credits along the trail. It can be bypassed. One successful route is to climb the far right groove, staying in it until the front passenger tire is a couple of feet beyond the small hole visible behind the rear passenger tire. There are nice views of Mount Lemmon after passing through the unimpressive Charouleau Gap. There are many boulder collections along the way. Descend from the Gap then spend almost 3 miles crossing back and forth through, and driving in, Canada Del Oro wash. The area pictured here is called the Car Wash. This 3-mile stretch is impassable in high water conditions. The Step is an extra credit a few hundred feet off the main trail. It is steep and a bit off-camber at the top, but it can be done. Climbing out of Canada Del Oro has as many challenges as driving down it. More boulders, erosion, and the steep ledge are pictured here. The Escalator is a named hill that is not as difficult as the name might suggest.


Off-camber trail with deep holes and large rocks that may exceed axle height. Expect erosion, loose rocks, sand, washes, shelves, and deep mud holes. Obstacles and ledges up to 6 feet, and near-vertical grades 12-14 feet tall. Potential for deep water crossings with strong currents. Caution: Vehicle damage and roll-overs are very possible.

Technical Rating