The Battle Ax Mountain Trail starts at an unofficial trailhead where washouts have closed the forest road. This portion of the trail follows the creek that washed out the road. You will reach what was the original trailhead, Trail #3340, and start your climb up a more obvious and better maintained trail.
The trail on Battle Ax Mountain is a mixture of dirt and rocks. Most rocky areas are talus fields that the trail crosses a few times as it switchbacks up the mountain. You will notice multiple rock formations and a diverse array of geologic formations in addition to wildflowers (if you hike in the spring) and stunning views. On a clear day you will be rewarded with views of Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Broken Top, and the Three Sisters.
A cabin was built on Battle Ax in 1925. It was replaced by a tower in 1951, but this was destroyed in 1969. Concrete pillars are all that remain from the site. There is room for a tent here or at a couple other areas along the trail, but there are no actual designated campsites. From the summit, return back the way you came or follow Trail #3340 to a junction with Trail #544. At the junction, take a sharp right turn to return to Elk Lake and Forest Road 4697. Turn right onto Forest Road 4697 for about 0.8 mile to reach the junction with Trail #3340 and the trailhead.
Note that the trailhead has space for about four cars, and the road is rough. If you do choose to park at the unofficial trailhead, you will need a high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicle. For other parking options, try parking further down the road or at the campground. There is no marker indicating the trailhead.