The 8 Best Hikes to See Fireworks

Skip the crowds and catch the festivities on the trail.
By Ashley M. Halligan ,

iStock

Fourth of July means a lot of things: dinner on the grill, good friends, and, most of all, wild firework displays. But sometimes, we just want to skip the crowds and go find some cozy overlook up in the mountains instead.

This year, you can have pyrotechnics and trail time: Thanks to a few tucked-away places that have particularly grand Independence Day celebrations, you can hike to your own private fireworks-watching spot. Just pick one of these eight trails, sit back, and watch the show.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

2-mile Snow King Summit Trail

The Town of Jackson has a stellar fireworks display at the base of Snow King Mountain each year. But, why watch the fireworks from the base of the mountain when you can climb to 7,808 feet and watch them from above? It’s a two-mile trek by way of the Snow King Summit Trail to the top, where you’ll enjoy the show while looking over one of America’s most charming towns.

For more information about Snow King’s festivities, visit the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce.

Thomas, West Virginia

4-mile Thomas City Parks & Trails

The Thomas area is well known for a few things, in particular an iconic music venue called The Purple Fiddle and a ski resort called Canaan Valley. Spend a little time on the trail, and you’ll get front-row seats to the town’s fireworks display. The in-town trail connects with the old railroad grade and loops directly beneath the fireworks right in front of Thomas’ main strip of local businesses. “The ash fallout practically hits you,” says local Justin Doak. After the show, stop by the Fiddle for homemade soup and down-home jams.

For more information about the celebration, visit Mountaineer Days; for the Fiddle’s schedule, visit The Purple Fiddle.

Farragut State Park, Idaho

18.3-mile Bernard Peak Loop

This trail is great for those who’d like to turn their excursion into a camping trip and don’t mind clocking miles and taking on steep ascents in exchange for a wild view. A few miles into the ascent, hikers encounter vantage points overlooking Lake Pend Oreille. Bayview, Idaho—a small town across the lake—puts on an annual fireworks display for the Fourth. “When they pop, you get reverberations off two other mountains and colorful reflections in the lake,” says local outdoorswoman Megan Habel.

For more information about 4th of July festivities, visit the Bayview Chamber of Commerce; for more trail information, visit Visit Idaho.

San Diego, California

3.5- or 8-mile Cuyamaca Peak Trail

There are two different trailheads that’ll take you to the top of Cuyamaca Peak in San Diego’s Cuyamaca Rancho State Park (3.5 miles from Paso Picacho or 8 miles from Green Valley). But while this hike leads to an incredible vantage point, it’s a leap of faith. “When the marine layer rolls in, it could block your view. If it doesn’t, prepare to be wowed,” says local Matt Ginsky. The peak is the geographic center of San Diego (and the second highest in the county), and is a near-perfect place to peep the various fireworks displays held across the city.

For more information about San Diego-area Fourth of July festivities, visit the San Diego Tourism Authority; for more trail information, visit Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.

Lander, Wyoming

1-mile North Slope Trail

The North Slope Trail in Lander’s Sinks Canyon State Park is a steep, one-mile hike that reveals views of the Lander Valley below and the Wind River Mountains in the distance. Bonus: Lander has one of Wyoming’s best Fourth of July celebrations, particularly if you don’t mind getting soaked by a fire hose during their annual parade. If you’d prefer to watch the fireworks from afar, a hike into Sinks Canyon can give you a bit more privacy paired with magnificent views.

For more information about this year’s festivities, visit the Lander Chamber of Commerce.

Lake Tahoe, California

17.9-mile Spooner Summit to Kingsbury South Trail

This eastern section of the Tahoe Rim Trail is another good option for those seeking an overnight adventure. Beginning at Spooner Summit, you’ll hike almost four miles to the highest point along this segment of the trail—South Camp Peak, which rises to 8,866 feet. From here, you’ll have an expansive view of Lake Tahoe to the west, including Tahoe City, which has hosted a spectacular 4th of July display over the lake for 72 years.

For more information this year’s festivities, visit the Tahoe City Downtown Association; for more trail information, visit the Tahoe Rim Trail Association.

Park City, Utah

3.1-mile Spiro Trail

Accessible from the base of Park City Mountain, the Spiro Trail takes hikers to a vista that overlooks the historic center of town and offers an aerial view of the fireworks launched just below. Park City’s annual celebration includes a 7 a.m. pancake breakfast in City Park, followed by live music, rugby, a rodeo, and a Rotary Club barbeque before the fireworks are launched at dusk.

For more information this year’s festivities, visit the Tahoe City Downtown Association; for more trail information, visit Park City Mountain.

Burlington, Vermont

12.4-mile Long Trail section over the summit of Camel’s Hump

The 273-mile Long Trail is a classic for avid backpackers and trekkers, running from Massachusetts to the Canadian border and passing through Vermont’s Green Mountains along the way. This 12.4-mile out-and-back section follows the trail to the top of the mountain where, on a clear day, you can see both Lake Champlain and Burlington thirty miles in the distance. It’s a rugged, 6.2-mile climb to the top of Camel’s Hump from the north side of the mountain (via the trailhead on Duxbury Road), but if you’re greeted with a clear sky, Burlington’s July 3rd fireworks in the distance will make for a majestic reward for your hard work. It may be a gamble, but some gambles are worth taking.

For more information this year’s festivities, visit the City of Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront; for more trail information, visit Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation.

Join the Conversation