Unfortunately, your options for hiking in the Gorge this winter are limited due to the recent Eagle Creek Fire. The fire devastated the Gorge, and all of the interstate exits and trails are still closed. They’ll remain closed for the winter since we now face a danger of landslides. That said, I’m happy to provide you with a couple other ideas.
If you’re looking for a lighter to moderate activity level, think about driving through the Gorge to visit Hood River. In Hood River you can walk or bike the Old Columbia Highway at Mark O. Hatfield Trailheads (everything to the west is closed). Discovery Bicycles in downtown Hood River rents bicycles. This portion of the trail is paved, closed to motor vehicles, and runs five miles in each direction. The trail provides multiple sweeping Gorge views and prime bald eagle habitat. It’s a favorite of Hood River locals. Or, you could walk along the river trail, which is also paved. Start at the Best Western or the Hood River Event Site and enjoy the river views. Along the way, stop for a craft pizza at Solstice or a fine brew at Pfriem. Downtown Hood River is quaint and bustling with small, local businesses; it has plentiful dining options as well. Portlanders often visit Hood River as a day trip.
If you’d like to bump up the intensity, I suggest driving up Hwy. 26 and exploring the Mt. Hood area. My favorite hike is the Ramona Falls trail, which requires a full day and a readiness for adventure. The river is crossable once you pick your route… it usually requires skootching over logs. If you choose this hike, please be prepared for a full day outside in questionable weather. In my opinion, it’s well worth it!
I hope this helps, and we’re all sorry that the treasured Columbia Gorge trails and waterfalls are not accessible at this point.