Update May 17, 2013: It’s been a week since I posted this and conditions have improved concerning the ice flow. It’s now passable with a modicum of care. See photo below:
The Highline trail is in pretty good shape except for one killer ice flow. The ice flow is in the Ship’s Prow creek drainage which intersects the Highline east, and is located about 100 metres above the East Connector.
It’s difficult to cross because you can’t walk on either side of it due to a steep canyon wall on one side and impassable tree debris on the other. Walking or biking across the ice is sketchy because it’s on a slope. I skirted the ice-flow by taking a little-used trail which takes you off the main trail for about 400 metres.
Overall, there are occasional patches of ice and snow and a bit of mud, but of little consequence. You won’t do much damage by biking it. I took a short detour at Three Sisters creek and checked out the old Quarry. A little further upstream is the waterfall, but there’s still lots of snow on the last 100 metres of the trail. I noticed that you can no longer descend to the base of the waterfall because a significant section of the bank has crumbled away. It’s more like a cliff now. You could probably get down(with some difficulty), but you’d be stuck there forever because it would be impossible to climb back up.
The water is flowing in all the drainages – the previously mentioned Ship’s Prow creek, Stones Canyon creek which becomes a spectacular hidden waterfall, and an unnamed drainage which only flows for a couple weeks. All are easy to cross on foot or on bike, except for the Ship’s Prow creek ice flow.
You can avoid the ice flow by doing a loop in the middle portion of the trail. Start at Quarry Lake, go east under the power line to the Peaks of Grassi trailhead(1.7K), ascend the east connector(1.4K), turn west at the forks and go across the top to the west connector(2.0K), descend back to Quarry Lake(1.7K).