Encouraged by the campground owner's description of an off-road bike trail paralleling the River Road, I headed back east this morning rather than following US 61, even though 61 had a nice wide, paved shoulder. Alas, the part of the road with the off-road trail was the part I skipped by going to the campground last night!
The river road from Annada to Old Monroe was some of the worst highway for biking that I've encountered... two lanes, gravel shoulder, lots of traffic. I stuck with it because I figured it's a state bike trail, it must get better... and because my campground for tonight was right on the road. The shoulder did become paved after Old Monroe, but I think I'll write a nasty note to MoDOT asking them to take down the "MRT" bike route signs over that stretch of road.
distance: 59.8 mi