With a thru-hike along the backbone of the Appalachian Mountain range, and crossing 14 states, I thought one would certainly be able to bag several of the 50 States high points. I consulted Peakbagger.com, mapped the provided coordinates, and consulted the ATC's Thru Hiker's Companion. This is what I found.
|Georgia||**||Brasstown Bald||4,784||34°52'27″N; 83°48′39″W|
|North Carolina||**||Mt Mitchell||6,684||35°45′53″N; 82°15′54″W|
|Tennessee||Y||Clingman’s Dome||6,643||35°33′46″N; 83°29′54″W|
|Virginia||Y||Mount Rogers||5,729||36°39'36"N; 81°32'42"W|
|West Virginia||N||Spruce Knob||4,861||38°41'59" N; 79°31'59" W|
|Maryland||N||Backbone Mountain||3,360||39°14'15"N; 79°29'8"W|
|Pennsylvania||N||Mt. Davis||3,213||39°47'10"N; 79°10'36"W|
|New Jersey||*||High Point||1,803||41°19'15"N; 74°39'42"W|
|New York||N||Mt. Marcy||5,344||44°6'46"N; 73°55'26"W|
|Connecticut||*||Mt. Frissell||2,380||42°2'58"N; 73°28'59"W|
|Massachusetts||Y||Mt. Greylock||3,487||42°38'14"N; 73°9'57"W|
|Vermont||N||Mt. Mansfield||4,393||44°32'38"N; 72°48'52"W|
|New Hampshire||Y||Mt. Washington||6,288||44°16'14"N; 71°18'12"W|
|Maine||Y||Mt. Katahdin||5,267||45°54'16"N; 68°55'17"W|
|Y||The trail passes over it, or it's a short side trail to summit|
|*||About a half-day side trip|
|**||Within striking distance, tho potentially a day+ side trip|
|N||Considerable distance from trail|
If you tru hike the AT, taking a few side trails for as much as a mile or so round trip, you'll bag five of the 50 state's high points. Add a couple of half-day side trips, and you'll bag two more. Take a couple of day trips, and you can bag two more, one of which is the highest peak in the eastern US.
The others are probably farther than most would want to attempt during a thru. With a dedicated vehicle, one might be able to bag Spruce Knob, Backbone Mountain and Mt. Davis in a day or so, as they are somewhat grouped together west of the trail. I've been told Mt. Mansfield is about a 90 mile drive if you rent a car in Hanover, NH.
I focused on the fifty states highest points. But an AT thru hike would also give an aspiring peakbagger a jump start on such lists as the Carolina Mountain Club's South Beyond 6000; The White Mountain 4000 Footers, and the New England Hundred Highest - both awarded by the Appalachian Mountain Club.
"Because it's there." - George Mallory