Charouleau Gap/FR 736

4/5 (8 reviews)
Oracle, Arizona (Pima County)
Last Updated: 01/24/2022
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Trail Information

Highlights

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 (8 reviews)
Status: Open
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.
Trail Review: Charouleau Gap/FR 736 - John Hallett
Trail Review: Charouleau Gap/FR 736 - John Hallett
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Dan
100
Status: Open
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 out...so maybe over selling the trail is a good idea haha
Tom
15000
Status: Open
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.
Trail Review: Charouleau Gap/FR 736 - Tom
Trail Review: Charouleau Gap/FR 736 - Tom
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Jim Long
Official Crew
15150
Status: Open
Visited: 09/20/2020

USFS will open this trail tomorrow, 9/21/2020.
Trail Review: Charouleau Gap/FR 736 - Jim Long
Jim Long
Official Crew
15150
Status: Temporary Closure
Rated 2/5
Visited: 06/07/2020

The Forest Manager, Kerwin Dewberry advised that the forest will be closed until November 2020.

OFFICIAL USFS Closure:
AREA CLOSURE Order Number: # 03-05-05-20-021

AREA CLOSURE MAP Order Number: # 03-05-05-20-021

The bighorn fire has closed the roads up Mount Lemmon. The town of Summerhaven is under a SET to prepare for an evacuation order. (as of 6/15/2020) This fire has grown about 1-2 thousand acres per day and the weather is not doing anything to slow this down. (Hot and windy). The fire edge was only about 1 mile from the trailhead of FR 736 and the neighborhood just to the south of the TH has been evacuated. BUT, the fire will have to pass through a significant amount of values at risk to get here to the Trail. I have not seen the official closure but it is probably not a smart idea to get trapped on this trail right now. All of the other roads up Mount Lemmon are closed right now.

Once this fire gets onto Samaniego Ridge, it will run right over the geographic gap/saddle. Please wait until Monsoons tamp this down (And fill the car wash back up) before you run this trail. Don't become a rescue problem.

Catalina State Park is closed to camping right now.
Trail Review: Charouleau Gap/FR 736 - Jim Long

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