Bull of the Woods Loop
DirectionsFollow Hwy 22 to Detroit Lake (south of Bull of the Woods Wilderness) and turn on Forest service road 42 toward Britenbush Hot Springs. Only after a few miles turn left and follow signs to Elk Lake. (the roads are pretty bad once you turn off road 42 and it is essential to have a road map of the area with the forest service roads) Park at Elk Lake
This is a good lower altitude hike that you can push as long as the road is negotiable. It offers some great old growth forests, views, and very picturesque wooded lakes. My trip was done in 2 days, but I wish that I had pushed it to 3. The loop starts at Elk Lake and follows the elk creek trail up to Battle Creek trail junction. My route led me up an abandoned trail to atop the ridge overlooking the welcome lakes basin. I would recommend however continuing up the elk creek trail until the junction with welcome creek trail. From here I continued on the Big slide lake to camp, but another possibility if you have more time would be to continue to Lake Lenore, which I had hopes of reaching but ran out of daylight. The trail continues up to the ridge south of big slide lake and up to the Bull of the Woods Lookout. This vista offers great views from Rainer all the way down to the 3 Sisters. My route continued back down from the lookout south toward twin lakes, but an alternate route could take you down to Pansy and Dickey Lake if you have more time. Twin lakes is a great area with some awesome campsites available. From here the route climes up the ridge again to the slopes of battle Ax Mountain. I chose to climb this hill as well, but that led to a lot of climbing in one day and there is another trail that leads more directly back down to Elk Lake if you are looking to cut some mileage. The views from Battle Ax of Mount Jefferson are worth it though. Both the trails out leave you on the west side of Elk Lake so you will have to do a little hiking on the road to reach your car. When I did this trip in the fall of 03 the signage was fairly poor, so be sure to bring a map and try and know your trail numbers, as often that is all you will get on a sign. This wilderness area has many other trials that intersect with this loop so a number of trips using bits and pieces of this route are possible. It is also full of Rhododendrons and huckleberries, making it a great trip for the spring or fall.