According to several well informed individuals, and I must say that I am in agreement with them, the best way to make significant progress on the Great Plains Trail (GPT) will be to establish a route on back (way back) dirt roads. This could be the best initial step toward creating a proper trail, which could be decades in the making.
I would still shoot for establishing a proper trail anywhere it was possible, perhaps in the scattered National Grasslands or other state or federal lands. The roads could be a way to connect the dots and, for the time being, skirt the overwhelming legalities and complexities of private property issues.
I have been on some way back dirt roads out there in several states of the Great Plains, and they are as empty of traffic as a road can be. I am convinced that some see fewer than 10 cars/trucks per week. They can be inspiring places as well, and will keep your interest as you wonder what awaits you over the next rise. Bicyclists looking to travel along the trail would perhaps benefit the most from this approach. A lonely gravel road can be a fantastic place to bike (if the wind isn’t too strong).
I am optimistic about the prospects of “finishing” the trail in this way. Please let me know your thoughts on this, and if you know of anyone skilled in this area (mapping, GPS, Google Earth, etc).