Charouleau Gap/FR 736

4/5 (9 reviews)
Oracle, Arizona (Pima County)
Last Updated: 01/24/2022

Trail Information


Ghost Town
A historic route between Oracle and Tucson, Charouleau Gap (pronounced shar-lou) is the quintessential southern Arizona 4x4 trail and a must-do for anyone with a modified off-road vehicle. It has become kind of an Arizona right of passage. Skirting along the north foothills of the Santa Catalina mountains and in and out of the Canada Del Oro (canyon of gold) canyon, the Charouleau gap trail is a delight.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

This trail can be run in either direction. The road is comprised of hard-packed dirt with embedded rock. There are several Waypoints with obstacles that have to be driven with no bypass available. Particularly the "Bumper Eater" at Waypoint 28 and the deep "V" of the Mine road at Waypoint 29. The "unsurvivable" obstacle at Waypoint 11 is encountered early but does have a bypass. The "Wall Obstacle" is optional but involves climbing up a 10' waterfall. This is the hardest obstacle.
There is a small portion of the trail that can be prone to flash flooding during the summer monsoon rains. Waypoint 22 in particular, is one of these areas that are usually full of water.

Trail Reviews

4/5 (9)
Rated 4/5
Visited: 10/01/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Harder

We took 10 vehicles through the smallest vehicles were 2 Bronco Badland Sasquatch (35" tires), and 1 Jeep Rubicon Recon (35" tires). The trail matches the description above until you get to waypoint 20 (4x4 sign). After that the trail was very rough and we did not see many of the iconic features like the staircase. Every low point in the trail has seen significant erosion requiring creative path finding to get past. At squeeze rock (32.55547, -110.78379), the erosion had deepened the cut reducing the width of the squeeze The JL Rubicon got through by tearing the fenders and damaging the right door hinge. We climbed out of the left side of the wash, then over a large rock and were able to continue on. At (32.55654, -110.78384) a bank had eroded an undercut and the first vehicle fell in on its side. We pulled it out and spent the night on the trail. Stacking rocks over spare tires filled the hole enough to get through. The next serious obstacle was (32.56742, -110.78185) where the erosion had dug a 8-10' gulley (see picture). Significant road work and rock stacking allowed the first vehicle to clear and then we just had to pull each vehicle through. The rest of the trail is essentially as described above. 18 hours to run it. Expect to get very good a driving a v notch. Good Luck
Rated 5/5
Visited: 04/24/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Harder

First off. Do not do this trail alone. It is no joke. There was four vehicles in various stages of broken along the trail. All in all I would rate the first leg to the Canada del oro as difficult. Everything north of the water is extreme.
Visited: 04/24/2021

Did most of the north end if this trail in a GMC 5500 tow truck, duelly, 4X4. Some steep stuff and tight turns but nothing crazy. If you can drive, I'd rate it moderate at best. Then again, I was up there to recover a newer Rubicon that the driver couldn't get out of a ditch. Started it, put in low and locked both ends and drove it maybe over selling the trail is a good idea haha
Rated 4/5
Visited: 12/29/2020

I usually stay off trails with a difficulty rating as high as this one. My son and his friends used to run part of the trail on the west side when they were in high school. Nostalgia, on his part, was what got us (two Jeeps ... don't run this one solo) out today. I loved the west end of the trail. Lots of rolling trail that really utilized the flex in my lift. Found the "Unsurvivable Obstacle" to be very interesting ... took three tries to get the Jeep lined up correctly to make it up. We voted to pass on the "Steps" ... neither Jeep was properly outfitted for that obstacle. Had a little trouble at the "Bumper Eater" ... seems it sleeted just before we got there. With the rocks soaking wet, it made for an interesting challenge. Both lockers and a bump saved the day. We spent a little over six hours on the trail, which included lunch, lots of picture taking, and lots of spotting through the harder spots. Both of us voted this trail a favorite.
Official Crew
Visited: 09/20/2020

USFS will open this trail tomorrow, 9/21/2020.

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