Many people out West where I live are naive to the brutal nature of trails on the East Coast. Switchbacks were not in the trail builders lexicon when they built the A.T. Many trails out west were built with horse and stock animals in mind making the grades gentler and the overall trail conditions more accommodating underfoot The trails I have often hiked back East in the Adirondacks or the Whites go straight up the mountain regardless of the terrain or angle.
To give this some perspective, the Pacific Crest Trail is ~20% longer (2675 miles) yet the AT has 60% more elevation gain. The Continental Divide Trail is over 40% longer (~3100 miles) but the AT gains almost 30% more elevation. Here is a link to a good website by the Appalachian Mountain Club with some of these stats: AMC
This is an elevation profile of the AT. Other stats I’ve read put the elevation gain at over 500,000’…this chart probably neglects smaller elevation changes along the way. Since everyone likes comparing things to Mt. Everest, climbing Everest requires one to ascend ~12,000′ from basecamp (17,000′ to 29,000′. This makes the AT comparable to climbing Everest over 40 times (and descending) in approximately 130 days…or one every ~3 days.