The Monticello Trail Arboretum was designed to showcase trees and shrubs native to Albemarle County, Virginia. Thomas Jefferson documented planting many native plant species at Monticello. The Arboretum is inspired by Jefferson's curiosity for his native surroundings, which he so carefully observed and enthusiastically shared with fellow naturalists.

Over 130 species of trees and shrubs grow in a wide range of habitats in Albemarle County, which stretches from the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the west to the rolling Piedmont in the east. On the Trail, species are grouped into distinct  "rooms", according to aesthetic, environmental or natural qualities, rather than by scientific classification.