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In wireless sensor networks (WSNs), gathering sensed information, transforming the information data to the base station in an energy efficient manner, and lengthening the network lifetime are important issues. Clustering is an energy efficient way that divides sensor nodes into many clusters, each of which has a cluster-head. The routing from cluster-head sensor nodes to the base station, however, has not been well studied. In this paper, we study the routing problems for WSNs. Specifically, we propose a novel energy efficient cluster-based routing algorithm for hierarchical WSNs, in which we hierarchicalize sensor nodes into different levels using the hop number of transmissions to the base station. Cluster-head sensor nodes are selected autonomously and transmit data to the base station using multi-hop transmissions, whereas non-cluster-head sensor nodes communicate with cluster-head sensor nodes directly. We have conducted comprehensive simulation experiments for the performance evaluation. The simulation results show that, for large scale WSNs, our proposed algorithm performs better in terms of network lifetime. Moreover, the algorithm mitigates the effect of self-induced black hole and balance the energy usage in the network by employing alternative sensor nodes.