This is your opportunity to walk in the footsteps of our third president. Climb the stone steps from the lower town and follow the cliff overlook trail to several large masses of Harpers Shale piled upon one another. Thomas Jefferson peered down from here on October 25, 1783 and described the view as “perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature.”
Jefferson continued his description in Notes on the State of Virginia, published in 1785:
“You stand on a very high point of land. On your right comes up the Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain a hundred miles to seek a vent. On your left approaches the Patowmac in quest of a passage also. In the moment of their junction they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder and pass off to the sea.”
Because the stone slabs became unsteady as they rested upon one another, four stone pillars were placed under each corner of the uppermost slab sometime between 1855 and 1860 to make Jefferson Rock safe for visitors.