History of the Bluff
10,000 years ago, the Bluff was reformed by periodic floods from glacial Lake Missoula that rushed down the Spokane River in unfathomable proportions. The waters washed over the top of the south hill, depositing river rock on the plateau and leaving highly erosive sand on the steep, southwest slopes of the Bluff (John Latta, geologist).
200 years ago, explorer David Thompson rode down Latah/Hangman Creek valley below the Bluff. He described the valley as being "park-like" with the trees set sufficiently far apart that it was possible to gallop a horse through the area (Jack Nisbet, naturalist, and author). Some of the trees growing on the Bluff now were there when Thompson came through!
In about 1972, a fire ravaged the slopes at the southwest end of the Park. A few large trees survived, and the spaces between them filled in with dense, young regrowth, which is known commonly as “dog hair” for the pencil-thin, closely clumped saplings.
During that period, the Bluff was used largely as a dumping ground for unwanted appliances and vehicles. The first trails were carved, often straight up and down the hillside, by dirt bikers. A few individuals dug out trails for hiking and mountain biking – and these trails became the backbone of the trail system that laces through the area today.
Ultimately, the area was named a city park and off-limits to dumping and motorized vehicles.
Hangman Creek Valley was formed 10,000 years ago.
Some of the trees growing on the Bluff now were there when Thompson came through!
Read more about the geologic and natural history of the Bluff