We propose a stable backbone tree construction algorithm using multi-hop clusters for wireless sensor networks (WSNs). The hierarchical cluster structure has advantages in data fusion and aggregation. Energy consumption can be decreased by managing nodes with cluster heads. Backbone nodes, which are responsible for performing and managing multi-hop communication, can reduce the communication overhead such as control traffic and minimize the number of active nodes. Previous backbone construction algorithms, such as Hierarchical Cluster-based Data Dissemination (HCDD) and Multicluster, Mobile, Multimedia radio network (MMM), consume energy quickly. They are designed without regard to appropriate factors such as residual energy and degree (the number of connections or edges to other nodes) of a node for WSNs. Thus, the network is quickly disconnected or has to reconstruct a backbone. We propose a distributed algorithm to create a stable backbone by selecting the nodes with higher energy or degree as the cluster heads. This increases the overall network lifetime. Moreover, the proposed method balances energy consumption by distributing the traffic load among nodes around the cluster head. In the simulation, the proposed scheme outperforms previous clustering schemes in terms of the average and the standard deviation of residual energy or degree of backbone nodes, the average residual energy of backbone nodes after disseminating the sensed data, and the network lifetime.