Bull of the Woods High Point: Battle Ax Mountain

Elk Lake far below: Near the summit of Battle Ax Mountain 
Oregon Wild has issued a simple challenge; hike in 50 Oregon Wilderness Areas between May 1 and October 31. After a slow start to hiking this summer and learning about the challenge somewhat late I have decided to attempt it anyways! Bull of the Woods and Opal Creek share a boundary, so I thought they would make a good start. Battle Ax Mountain is the highest point in Bull of the Woods Wilderness at 5,566 feet. The trail to the top of Battle Ax Mountain is straightforward once you reach Beachie Saddle look to your right and follow the trail to the top.

Battle Ax Mountain Trailhead

Battle Ax Mountain cutoff at Beechie Saddle

Looking northward from Beachie Saddle
Driving into Elk Lake Campground I was surprised to see so many cars. The road in is incredibly rocky and riddled with large holes. A truck or high clearance car is suggested. I made the mistake of driving to the start of the hike where Forest Road 4697 turns into a trail. Parking is no longer allowed here, so save your time and tires; park near the campground. There is a longer (15.5 miles)  loop option that will take you to past Twin Lakes and back to the Elk Lake Campground.

Looking south from the Battle Ax Mountain Trail

Wildflowers along the Battle Ax Mountain Trail
Despite the fairly large number of people camping at Elk Lake, I only came across two people on the trail. Awesome, friendly people often make hikes around Oregon an even better experience. Nearing the top I discovered that clouds had set in around the eastern side of the mountain. They made Elk Lake look pretty incredible, but obstructed views of the high cascades.

Foundation of the old fire lookout

Wildflowers clinging to the side of Battle Ax Mountain 

After talking for awhile a top Battle Ax Mountain we parted ways. The people from Portland made their way around the rest of the loop and I set out for Beachie Mountain.

Bear grass in bloom along the Battle Ax Mountain Trail

Very strange rock along Battle Ax Mountain 

There are over 75 miles of trails to explore in Bull of the Woods. Whether you're out for a day hike or setting out for a few days Battle Ax Mountain is a great jumping off point into a lush and beautiful area.

New cones forming on a western hemlock

Indian Paintbrush along what remains of FR 4697
Directions from Detroit: Turn left onto Forest Road 46, follow for 4.5 miles, turn left onto FR 4696, follow for .7 miles, turn left onto FR 4697, follow for 9.5 miles. Parking is on the right just before the campground. 

Hike Distance:  4.38 miles from the start of the trail round trip

Hike Type: Out and Back

Elevation Gain: 1500 Feet

Trailhead Elevation: 4000 Feet

Usage: Moderate

Difficulty: 3 out of 5

Fees: 5 dollar day pass or Northwest Forest Pass

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