Peirce Island is a 27-acre property on the Piscataqua River and is now owned by the city of Portsmouth. Peirce Island has had many uses in its past: It was the site of Fort Washington from 1775 through the early 1800s, and it was a ship-building site during the 1850s. An outdoor pool was built in 1937, and the island became an Army Recreation Center in the 1940s, with the Portsmouth Wastewater Treatment Facility being built the 1960s. The 100-yard long pool was updated in 2003, and it is open to the public during the summer months and offers varying levels of swimming lessons. While there is no fee to visit the island and explore the trails, a day use fee of $2 for Portsmouth residents and $4 for non-residents is charged to access the pool.
The island also provides walking trails that take visitors to salt marshes and tidal pools with views of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Memorial Bridge across the river. A trail leading out to Four Tree Island brings visitors to a lovely picnic area with covered picnic tables, grills, and excellent bird and boat-watching seats. Peirce Island also hosts a commercial fishing pier, public boat launch, and children’s playground.
Construction at the Portsmouth Wastewater Treatment Facility will require some trails and areas to be closed to the public from 2018 through 2020.