First Roundabout [ View Interactive Version ]
The "roundabouts" at Monticello are four roads that encircle the mountain, each basically following a contour level. These roads were connected by others that Jefferson identified as "1 in 10" or "1 in 20," a reference to their rate of ascent. This network of level roads and diagonal links provided a gentle and enjoyable way to ascend the mountain.
The First, or Upper, Roundabout is the uppermost of the four level roads that encircled the mountain at different elevations. Jefferson's first records of the roundabouts are from November 1772 in his Garden and Farm Books. In 1778, he recorded the circumference of the First Roundabout to be 926 yards or ".5261 mile." Twenty-eight years later he updated that entry noting "by a survey of 1806 Aug. 3. with a chain very exact it is 169.16 po. = .529 mile.
The course of First Roundabout is the only one to have been restored. Sections of the road are lined with honey locusts or mulberry tree in accordance with Jefferson's plans. It offers some of the most pleasing prospects of the Monticello House and Dependencies and of the surrounding open land and forest.