In this report we review recent experimental results on photoexcited carrier relaxation dynamics on high temperature superconductors (HTSC) probed by a femtosecond time-resolved optical spectroscopy, and compare the results with the data obtained on quasi two dimensional charge density waves. In these experiments, a femtosecond laser pump pulse excites electron-hole pairs via an inter-band transition in the material. These hot carriers rapidly release their energy via electron-electron and electron-phonon collisions reaching states near the Fermi energy within ~100 fs. If an energy gap is present in the low-energy density of states (DOS), it inhibits the final relaxation step and photoexcited carriers accumulate above the gap causing a transient change in reflectivity arising from excited state absorption. The relaxation and recombination processes of photoexcited quasiparticles, governed by the magnitude, anisotropy and the T-dependence of the low energy gap, are monitored by measuring the resulting photoinduced absorption as a function of time after the photoexcitation. This way, the studies of carrier relaxation dynamics give us direct information of the T-dependent changes in the low energy DOS. The technique is particularly useful to probe the systems with spatial inhomogeneities, where different local environments give rise to different relaxation rates. The data on series of HTSC-s show evidence for the coexistence of two distinct relaxation processes, whose T-dependences seem to be governed by two different energy scales: a T-independent pseudogap and a mean-field-like T-dependent gap that opens at Tc. The data suggest the origin of the two-gap behavior is in the intrinsic microscopic spatial inhomogeneity of these materials.