Hike 86
The Mt. Hood National Forest
Battle Ax Mountain Loop Hike
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Map of the Battle Ax Mountain Loop Hike

Length: 6 mile loop
Elevation Change: 1600' gain
Season: Mid Summer thru Fall
Difficulty:   Challenging
Permit:   NW Forest Pass Not Required


 Click for PDF Topo Map of this Hike 

Here we go again... the road... or at least what is referred to as a road. This one is just as bad as the Pyramid Butte road, maybe even worse, if thats possible. It's a toss up as to which would win the prize, but beware, this road is BAD! But, we are here to hike not cuss the road, so here goes one of the most fantastic hikes in the Mt Hood National Forest as well as the Bull of the Woods Wilderness.

Forest Road 4697 brings you to the starting point of this hike. Or another way to put it is, FR4697 comes to an abrupt end due to a washout, so you have to start hiking whether you want to or not. But what the hay, walking uphill on an old roadbed is likely easier than a trail, because once you reach the saddle between Battle Ax Mtn and Mt Beachie, you leave what was a road and enter what is a trail.

Personally, I love the trail up Battle Ax. Sure it is steep, but the views that are yours to enjoy almost every inch of the way are so spectacular, that who has time to worry about where your next breath is coming from.... just take another picture!!!

The trail climbs and climbs and your eyes nearly wear out for all the unbelievable scenery you are forced to endure. If you don't run out of film on this hike, you never will. Switchback after switchback you climb. Every foot of elevation gained brings more tremendous views. At this point I could care less about that treeless rut called a road that brought me here. I could care less about the steep exhausting climb. My only concern is whether or not any one up here knows CPR!!!!

Oh, it is so worth it. There used to be a lookout on the top, so the foundations are still showing, but who cares and who has time to look at them, with millions of vistas surrounding you on 360 degrees.... just enjoy, and be glad you're alive. This hike you will never forget, even when you get out of intensive care.... I promise.

An alternative route back is to walk the ridge to the north of the summit and follow this trail down until it meets up with Trail #544 to Twin Lakes. Make a hard right turn south on the trail and follow it back to the road where you are parked. You will have to walk just a short distance up the road to get back to your vehicle. But this is truly a fun way to return and adds to the adventure... and isn't as steep as just going back down the way you got up here.

Battle Ax Mountain rises above Elk Lake
How to get there:

 Click for PDF Directions Map of this Hike 

To reach Elk Lake and the trailheads for Battle Ax Mountain and Twin Lakes, is quite an adventure. Regardless of where you begin your journey, you will have to end up on Forest Road 46, which is the forest service's version of Hwy 224, that goes between Estacada and Detroit Lake.

About 65.4 miles south of Estacada or 4.5 miles north of Detroit, turn on Forest Road 4696. Go northeast for about .7 miles, and just after you cross over a creek, bear left onto Forest Road 4697. Follow FR 4697 the 7 miles to the Campground turnoff at the west end of Elk Lake. Continue past the campground about a quarter mile and the road ends due to a washout. In that quarter mile you will pass the trail that leads to Twin Lakes and other points north. The trail to Battle Ax Mountain continues along this road beyond the point of closure.

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