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Web site untangles parks trips

The Internet offers many sources of information on national parks, monuments and hiking trails, and net surfers with fast connections can even get virtual tours.

The best source of on-line parks information is the Great Outdoor Recreation Pages, known as Gorp (the acronym is a play on a hikers' favorite trail food, gorp, a blend of various treats such as melted chocolate, nuts, raisins and wheat germ.)

Gorp pages are organized by state rather than by park name, and have far more useful and comprehensive information for prospective visitors than that offered on the official National Park Service sites.

An exception is Acadia National Park in Maine, which has its own Web address. Paul F. Haertel, the park's superintendent, has suggestions on how to appreciate the park's natural and cultural history alongside truly helpful tidbits.

In addition to the official park Web site, a commercial home page for the area lists restaurants, lodging and things to do.

The government-run Parknet site is getting as overrun as Yosemite itself. Connecting can be slow even on a high-speed modem line. Instead of wasting time, go directly to Gorp or Campground Online, a site devoted to camping and recreational vehicles. Campground Online has a good set of links to camping resources for the devoted backwoods tent camper as well as for people who like to take along nearly everything they own.

Another well-organized park data base is the All-in-One Web Directory. It lists state parks, organized by state.

Broader than the sites for specific parks and recreation areas are those for trails that span thousands of miles.

Where to go

+ Great outdoor recreation pages:

+ All-in-one web directory:

+ Campground online:

+ National park service:

+ Acadia National Park: or

+ Appalachian Trail: