Charouleau Gap

Total Miles
33.7

Elevation

1,551.64 ft

Duration

7.5 Hours

Technical Rating

8

Difficult

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.

Photos of Charouleau Gap

Charouleau Gap
Charouleau Gap
Charouleau Gap

Difficulty

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

8

Status Reports

Bill Conservative
Dec 17, 2023
2014 Jeep Wrangler
Open
Rough/Deteriorated
Added plenty of new Arizona pinstripes and some new trophies on my belly skids and bumpers. Originally from N.E. so this was new territory for me, it was the best trail I've ever run! I have a pretty mild build daily driver with a JKS 3.5" lift ,control arms, full skids and 35's. I wouldn't run this trail alone...again. Came across a few UTVs but that's about it.
Jason Ransdell
Nov 11, 2023
4x4
Open
Dusty
Rough/Deteriorated
Waylon Jones
Jul 09, 2023
4x4
Open
Rough/Deteriorated

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