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Name: FR4496 (Ruin Tank) Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: (based on one vote)
Type: 4WD Difficulty: (Easy 4WD trail). This does not include the difficulty level of the Charouleau Gap Trail required to be run to get to the trail head (which may be more more difficult)
Time: 2 - 3 hours Region: SE Arizona
Length: 12 miles (out and back) Elevation gain/loss/change: +1877 / -1877 ft / +0 ft (roundtrip)
Type: Out and back Avg Elevation: 3800 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, winter, summer Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Low Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: Medium
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: August, 2012
Short Description: A short 4WD trail off the Charouleau Gap road that leads down to the Canyon Del Oro wash
Geocaches: Tons of cool geocaches around. Here's one. Charouleau Gap Redux
References / Contact Information: Charouleau Gap Trail;
Points of interest: Charouleau Gap trail, beautiful desert scenery, Kiss Rock, high-point lookout
Special Considerations: The above rating, times, mileage, etc. is for this trail alone, not the Charouleau Gap trail required to get there, which may be more difficult
How to get there: This trail is a spur trail off the Charouleau Gap trail. To get to the Charouleau Gap trail head, drive north on Oracle Rd (highway 77) until you reach Golder Ranch Rd, take a right, then a left on Lago Del Oro Pkwy (after 1.2 miles). Drive for 3.1 miles and you’ll come to the trail head on the right. There are forest service trail signs as you get close. Click here for directions. Sign in at the information box and head up the trail. Travel approximately 4 miles up the trail until you reach Waypoint 001 (FR4496) on the left.

Trail Description

FR4496 is a short spur trail off the Charouleau Gap trail that dead ends down at the CDO wash. During our trip in August 2012, the desert was green and lush. There were tons of yellow, orange, blue and purple flowers. Very nice.

Not a ton of extra stuff along this trail. It's an easy trail that offers some nice scenery along the way and gives you a different option than doing the Gap or Cherry Spring.

General Information and History

I have been running Charouleau Gap for over twenty years and have never been on this trail before. Usually, I am so tired from the long trip through the Gap (or in a hurry to get there), that this trail is passed by.

I have named this trail Ruin Tank because this was the most prevalent feature along the trail.

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The Trail

From Waypoint 001, head north on FR4496 (a left turn if coming from Catalina along the Charouleau Gap road). The trail winds along the small hills and valleys as you travel toward the CDO wash. Within the first mile, you will come to a large flat rock with some wonderful views of Catalina.

Continue along this easy 4WD trail for 3.1 miles until you the intersection at Waypoint 002. This intersection can be difficult to see (we drove right past it the first time through) as the road to the right immediately dips down a small hill.

Keep left at this intersection (essentially going straight) and continue along the road for another 0.3 miles until you see Ruin Tank (Waypoint 002A) on your right. When we went out there, the berm had been recently bulldozed (along with sections of the road).

After Ruin Tank, the road becomes a little more rocky, but still not very difficult. At Waypoint 003, you will begin to go through a series of three gates. For me, this was the prettiest section of the trail. You drive through a nice, small canyon with big saguaros and rocks on either side.

When you get to Waypoint 004, the road appears to head straight across the wash and up a small hill. This route is now impassible: a bulldozer has cut deep trenches and places large rocks across it. If you would like to continue to the CDO wash, take a hard left at Waypoint 004 (in the small wash) for 50-100 feet, then a right up the hill on the bypass.

You can drive until you get to the CDO (Waypoint 005), but unless there's water flowing, there doesn't seem much of a point. All roads leading from the CDO are blocked off as private property. If it was up to me, I would turn around at Waypoint 004. It's a nicer area than the CDO is at Waypoint 005.

Turn around at either Waypoint 004 or 005 and retrace your tracks to Waypoint 002. It was on this section of our return trip that we found the desert tortoise crossing the road (no, I will refrain from making the bad joke on why did the desert tortoise cross the road?).

After almost 30 years exploring southern Arizona, this is the first desert tortoise I have ever come across in the wild. It was really cool.

Cat-dog was super scared of it (which is good, I like her being scared of critters she doesn't know).

At Waypoint 002, take a left if you want to go up to the top of the hill (Waypoint 006). It gives you good 360 degree views of the area and the hill leading up to it is the most difficult on the trail (though still easy). The very end of this trail is VERY brushy. If you like the paint on your vehicle, I would suggest turning around at Waypoint 006.

If you want to take it all the way, the trail ends just beyond Waypoint 007 at a small tank. We turned around at Waypoint 007 due to the overgrown trees (though even getting there was bad).

Once you're done, head back to Waypoint 002, take a left and back to Charouleau Gap Road.

Be safe and have fun!

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