You’re correct that most of the trails in the Columbia River Gorge are closed as a result of the Eagle Creek Fire and the potential of landslides. However, some of the sights have recently opened back up, and we have several alternative options! The Old Columbia Highway is open from Troutdale to Bridal Veil Falls, so I recommend that you check it out. Stop at the Vista House at Crown Point for sweeping Gorge views, hike the short trail to Latourell Falls, and then finish up at Bridal Falls State Park. Multnomah Falls Lodge and first viewing platform open. The surrounding hikes will probably be closed throughout winter, but it’s still worth a stop to see one of Oregon’s most famous attractions.
You could also spend a day or two visiting Hood River and it’s surrounding attractions. The Old Columbia Highway Twin Tunnels is a local favorite for biking and walking, or you can grab some snow boots (based on the forecast, I don’t think you’ll need snowshoes this mid December) and head up Hwy 35 to Tawanamas Falls.
Downtown Hood River is also pretty enjoyable. It’s adorable by day and sociable by night. You’ll find plenty of food, drinks, and entertainment for you and your friends in our little town. I’d also recommend that you stop at our local bookstore, Waucoma Books, and purchase a copy of “Curious Gorge”. It’ll guide you to plenty of other attractions and hikes in our area, many with far fewer people than the ever-so-popular waterfall corridor.
Although this summer’s fire devastated portions of the Gorge, you’ll still find plenty to explore. I can assure you that you won’t have trouble filling a few days of exploring.