Ave/Grade (4°): 7%
Max Grade (13°):24%
“2 hours of pain for 20 minutes of fun.”
— Hillary Mathis on May 28, 2014
“If you love narrow Tucson mountain bike trails with a combo of fun jeep trails, Charouleau has to be on your list. Riders heading here have to know what they’re doing and be fit. The views of the Catalinas are splendid. You will have a rigorous 3 mile climb to the Gap. The jeep trails portion of this ride is technical, so be prepared.”
Jason, The Bike Bandit
First of all, to bike through Charouleau Gap Trail, cyclists must have at least intermediate biking skills and hiking abilities. We say this because to get through Charouleau and this Tucson, Arizona biking trail, you will likely need to get off of your bike from time to time.
But this comes with a good prize. There are lots of trail drops that will lead to your bike gaining heavy speed, and you may even find yourself cycling at the edge of recklessness. With that being said, going up this trail is pure torture.
Charouleau Gap Trail is easy to find for anyone who has ridden in the Golder Ranch area. And if you’re not familiar with the area yet, then let us break it down for you. When going toward the parking on Golder Ranch Road turn North (which would be left at this point) on Lago Del Oro instead of heading all the way up the hill.
Take Lago Del Oro until you run into the parking area on the East side (or the right side) of the road for Charouleau Gap. You will pass the Miraval Spa on your right. The entrance to Charouleau Gap is about 3 miles along Lago Del Oro and just before you get to Saddlebrook.
“2 hours of pain for 20 minutes of more-than-worth-it fun.”
— Hillary Mathis on May 28
Because there are so many biking trails all around Tucson, most of them do not get visited too often. We’re not entirely sure how often this trail is used for mountain biking. Its mainly double-tracks are used by the local Off-Roading enthusiasts regularly, though, so you will run into people if you decide to bike here.
It is tough physically and technically. Charouleau Gap Trail has one heck of a climb. There are two elevation profiles for this ride. The first takes you 6 miles up to the top of Charouleau Gap (the second cattle guard), and the second takes you to a “Y” in the trail about 3 miles down the other side. You can also connect to Charouleau from the Golder Ranch – Middlegate area.
Once you’re on Charouleau and on your biking adventure, watch out for the downhill portion near the top—it has potential for serious injury because it is very steep and covered with loose rocks.