This was my first state highpoint and first experience climbing anything of altitude under my own power. Brother-in-law and I flew from Houston to El Paso. Drove to the mountains at night. Slept in the parking lot and got up just before day break. Had some "breakfast" and got ready as the sky was lightening.
The first part of the trail gains altitude very fast. You hike and hike and hike what seems forever and you look back and still see the parking lot. The views of the surrounding mountains and the valley below are beautiful. Then it's predominantly switchbacks most of the way over various sides of mountains.
The "middle" part, to me, was the most beautiful section. Through the confiers and other trees. Views outstanding. The area before the bridge and deep gorge took our breath away.
Then the trail gets very steep again as you make your way to the top. You can see forever from the top. It's an incredible view seeing the whole geography lift up from the flat desert up to the foothills.
We spent about 45 minutes at the top. 5 hours up with plenty of breaks. 2 hours down. About 75 degrees with occasional cool breeze that was wonderful.
Trail notes: All other hiking I have done has not had the significant quantity of large (baseball+) loose rocks. Was not too bad going up. Was a pain coming down.
Hints for making your trip up easier: Stairmaster. Lots of it. This is not like simply walking a trial. It's a lot of stepping up.
Highly recommend the trek. You will feel you are not in Texas. Sunrise from just up the first hill a bit was beautiful. Would be nice to camp at the campground on the mountain and see sunrise from the top of Texas.
My family did this hike 2 years ago in March when there was still snow on the trail in the shaded parts. The view from the top was spectacular and we could see a snow capped Sierra Blanca on the northern horizon. We complete that cycle this summer by climbing Sierra Blanca and spotting Guadalupe Peak way to the south.
The hike down was tough enough, as you mention, but add the slick snow to the mix and there were spots where I thought I was going to slide right off the mountain! Your feet would slip right out from under you. As we neared the bottom in the late afternoon there were mule deer everywhere.